A PERFORMANCE-RELATED report has revealed that West Surrey NHS Trust, is the second worst out of England's 99 health authorities for bedblocking.

The trust includes the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Frimley Park Hospital and Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals

The league table also said that the area is second to bottom in a list of patients waiting over a year for their operations and seventh worst for total waiting lists.

Local MP Virginia Bottomley has hit out this week at what she claims is a "growing health crisis" in Surrey.

"Healthcare across our region is in meltdown," declared Mrs Bottomley.

"When is this government going to stop ducking the barrage of questions I continue to raise with them. How bad does the situation have to get before this government acts to end this impending NHS disaster?"

Among other facts to come out of the list of the comparative performance of the 99 health authorities in the country is that west Surrey comes 29th from the bottom for cancelled operations on the day.

But there is some good news in the league table; for emergency admission of elderly patients the authority is fifth best, sixth best for mortality rates, third best for coronary heart disease and 13th best for cancer care.

Mrs Bottomley has claimed that a lack of resources for residential and nursing homes meant that the most vulnerable are suffering unnecessarily and hospital beds are blocked.

"At least the authorities have belatedly seen sense with a reprieve for Milford Hospital; without their work the crisis would have been even worse this winter," said Mrs Bottomley.

"Waiting times at the accident and emergency department at the Royal Surrey County Hospital are so bad due to bedblocking that one of its own staff confirmed that patients would be better off going to Frimley Park," she claimed.

And in answer to a letter from a concerned resident, Mrs Bottomley said the current situation was causing her "great frustration and anxiety".

"Along with the Royal Surrey County Hospital reporting some of the longest A&E waits in the country, the government has piled on added concern by putting our ambulance service in jeopardy with the proposed merger with Hampshire."

"It is with growing anxiety that we watch these services worsening. I shall continue to do all I can to fight for our share of resources and resist these ill thought out ideas,

which put cost and bureaucracy before the welfare of the people of Surrey".

In the report to The West Surrey NHS Health Authority by David Smith, the health authority's director of performance development, members of the WSHA heard last month that delays in discharging patients accounted for 181 people staying in beds longer than they needed to.

The report said that despite a drop, numbers were "still fluctuating at an unacceptable level".

Total numbers on waiting lists for inpatient and day case treatment have fallen to 14,536 but the number of patients waiting over 12 and 15 months has increased to 1,522 and 426 respectively during April and May.

The report also said that both the numbers of patients waiting more than 26 weeks and 13 to 25 weeks for outpatient appointments have increased to 852 and 2,988 respectively during April and May.

"Delayed discharges are bad for patients, exposing them to hospital acquired infections and delaying their rehabilitation. They also block the health care system making it more difficult for other patients to get into hospital when they need to. The knock on effects are long waits in A&E and cancelled operations," said Mr Smith in his report.

And he warned that action aimed a reducing the numbers to manageable levels should include a recognition that more money was needed, in addition to the £650,000 already pumped into the system.

But he stressed in his report that despite the difficulties facing patients, west Surrey had one of the healthiest populations in the country.

Among a course of action aimed at reducing bedblocking are standardising and getting basic procedures right across all health and social care services including joint working with social services, joint arrangements for discharge and health need assessments, and a lock at nursing homes and residential care facilities to see how they can be improved.

The lack of nursing and residential care and the effect on accident and emergency and waiting lists, as well as the proposed Surrey Ambulance merger were all expected to be discussed at a meeting of the South West Surrey Community Health council held last night (Thursday) at Broadwater Community Centre, in Farncombe.